Simien National Park
Simien National Park – 1978 ( The grand canyon of Africa )
The Simien Mountains National Park is found in Amhara National Regional State North Gondar administrative Zone. It is located in 13o and 11’ North and 38o4’ East. This national park is 140 kilometers North of Gonder, the 17th and 18th Centuries capital of Ethiopia. The park is one of the first sites to be included in the list of world Heritage in 1978.
The park includes one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1500 m. The highest peak is Ras Dashen. The highest mountain in Ethiopia and the fourth in Africa, with an altitude of 4620 meters, it is also home to some extremely rare animals that are endemic to in Ethiopia such as the Gelada baboon, the Simien fox and the walia ibex. There are also varieties of flora in the park found nowhere, but in Ethiopia.
The park was listed under endangered sites in 1996 as a result of the decline of the number of walia ibex due to human intervention in the park .But the number of these rare species is now in the rise.
The Semiens are remarkable as being one of the few spots in Africa where snow regularly falls. First mentioned in the Monumentum Adulitanum of the 4th century AD (which described them as “inaccessible mountains covered with snow” and where soldiers walked up to their knees in snow), the presence of snow was undeniably witnessed by the 17th century Jesuit priest Jerónimo Lobo. Although the later traveler James Bruce claims that he had never witnessed snow in the Semien Mountains, the 19th century explorer Henry Salt not only recorded that he saw snow there (on 9 April 1814), but explained the reason for Bruce’s failure to see snow in these mountains – Bruce had ventured no further than the foothills into the Semiens.
Despite their ruggedness and altitude, the mountains are dotted with villages linked by tracks. Historically they were inhabited by Ethiopian Jews (the Beta Israel), who after repeated attacks by the zealous Christian Emperors in the 15th century withdrew from the province of Dembiya into the more defensible Semien mountains.